Oakland settles “last remaining claims” in deadly Ghost Ship fire

Photo by Jim Heaphy

Oakland city councilmembers approved a settlement Tuesday giving a total of $399,000 to 12 people who were once residents of the Ghost Ship warehouse before it burned down killing 36 in December 2016, council records show.

This latest settlement comes following the approval in July of $32.7 million, which was given to one victim who survived and some of the families of the victims who died.

Sam Maxwell, who survived but with lifelong injuries and enormous medical expenses, received $9.2 million, while 32 families of the 36 who died received $23.5 million.

“While no amount of money can bring these people back to their families, we are grateful that we are able to bring them some sense of justice,” Mary Alexander, lead attorney in that case, said in a statement in July following the agreement.

The lawsuits filed on behalf of those victims alleged that the city was negligent in its inspections of the warehouse.

The fire at the Oakland warehouse on Dec. 2, 2016, killed 36 people.

The settlement with the residents covers alleged emotional distress and loss of personal property, council records show. All eight councilmembers voted for the settlement.

“The settlement resolves the last remaining claims of Plaintiffs in lawsuits arising from the tragic Ghost Ship fire,” Maria Bee, chief assistant city attorney for Oakland said.

The city admits no wrongdoing or liability, a resolution approving the settlement said.

The deadly fire broke out late on the night of Dec. 2, 2016, at the warehouse in the 1300 block of 31st Avenue in the city’s Fruitvale District. Before the fire started that night, 80 to 100 people were attending a concert at the warehouse, according to Alexander’s office.

Derick Almena, the warehouse’s master leaseholder, and Max Harris were tried in a criminal case on charges of involuntary manslaughter.

Harris was acquitted. The jury couldn’t reach a decision in Almena’s case and he will be retried.

PG&E also settled with the residents of the warehouse, Maxwell, and the families of the victims who died.

“Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families and friends of the victims of this tragic event,” PG&E spokeswoman Tamar Sarkissian said. “PG&E disputes liability, but the matter was resolved.”

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